Comparison of DCE-MRI kinetic parameters and FMISO-PET uptake parameters in head and neck cancer patients

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Tumor hypoxia is a major cause of radiation resistance, often present in various solid tumors. Dynamic [18F]-fluoromisonidazole (FMISO) PET imaging is able to reliably assess tumor hypoxia. Comprehensive characterization of tumor microenvironment through FMISO-PET and dynamic contrast enhanced (DCE) MR multimodality imaging might be a valuable alternative to the dynamic FMISO-PET acquisition. The aim of this work was to explore the correlation between the FMISO-PET and DCE-MRI kinetic parameters.


This study was done on head and neck cancer patients (N = 6), who were imaged dynamically with FMISO-PET and DCE-MRI on the same day. Images were registered and analyzed for kinetics on a voxel basis. FMISO-PET images were analyzed with the two-tissue compartment three rate-constant model. Additionally, tumor-to-muscle ratio (TMR) maps were evaluated. DCE-MRI was analyzed with the extended Tofts model. Voxel-wise Pearson's coefficients were calculated for each patient to assess pairwise parameter correlations.


Median correlations between FMISO uptake parameters and DCE-MRI kinetic parameters varied across the parameter pairs in the range from −0.05 to 0.71. The highest median correlation of r = 0.71 was observed for the pair Vb−vp, while the K1−Ktrans median correlation was r = 0.45. Median correlation coefficients for the K1−vp and the Ki−Ktrans pairs were r = 0.42 and r = 0.32, respectively. Correlations between FMISO uptake rate parameter Ki and DCE-MRI kinetic parameters varied substantially across the patients, whereas correlations between the FMISO and DCE-MRI vascular parameters were consistently high. Median TMR-K1 and TMR-Ktrans correlations were r = 0.52 and r = 0.46, respectively, but varied substantially across the patients.


Based on this clinical evidence, we can conclude that the vascular fraction parameters obtained through DCE-MRI kinetic analysis or FMISO kinetic analysis measure the same biological property, while other kinetic parameters are unrelated. These results might be useful in the design of future clinical trials involving FMISO-PET/DCE-MR multimodality imaging for the assessment of tumor microenvironment.

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